“How cold is it up there right now?” asked Kenny Hensley, keyboardist for Seattle-based band The Head and The Heart.
Ironically, it happened to be one of those rare, fifty-degrees-in February days in Ann Arbor. “As long as it’s not like zero degrees,” he said “I like the northern Midwest.”
The folk-pop forerunners are no strangers to Michigan. Hensley, along with singer Jonathan Russell, bassist Chris Zasche, drummer Tyler Williams and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Charity Rose Thielen, played MOPOP music festival in Detroit last July, and made a stop at the Filmore in December before embarking on the European leg of their tour.
The Head and The Heart has “been pretty busy since around September,” Hensley said. “Through this full year into next we’ll be touring consistently.”
The band will perform in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, February 28 at the historic Hill Auditorium. “(When we last) played in Ann Arbor,” Hensley recalled, “it was next to this weird nightclub.”
The group has come a long way since their last visit to Ann Arbor: they’re currently touring to promote their 2016 record Signs of Light, and their hit single “All We Ever Knew” topped the Billboard Alternative list — a first for the band.
“We just did what we’ve always done and hoped people liked it as much as we did” said the keyboardist. “It wasn’t really premeditated.”
Whatever they’re doing, it’s working — the band has maintained a loyal fan base and undoubtedly gained some followers after “All We Ever Knew” was heard on radio stations all over the country.
“We have had some success with radio in the past” Hensley remembered. “You see your fan base growing at a quicker rate.”
The Head and The Heart’s harmony-infused, acoustic ballads attract Mumford and Sons-loving teens and adult-alternative listeners alike. Their most recent album adopted a fuller sounding production, but the band sticks to the rustic roots of their debut self-titled record and its successful follow up Let’s Be Still.
When attending one of their concerts, fans can expect a diverse mixture of their favorite The Head and The Heart tracks.
“It’s definitely something we’ve talked about,” Hensley said. “Growing up and us going to shows, and you know, if I went to go see a new band I loved — even if I really loved the new record — I was always bummed if I went and they played like everything off the new record and only a few old songs. You always want to hear a good mix of their music.”
The band makes an active effort to provide a magical experience for their fans, and the energy proves a two-way connection.
“Yeah it’s totally the audience,” Hensley remarked. “If we were just playing those (old hit) songs together in a room rehearsing them, we’re not going to be super energetic because we’ve played them a ton.”
“The audience is really great most of the time,” he said. "We could play almost any track and have it be awesome.”